Atlanta Falcons: Is Devonta Freeman a fantasy football first-rounder?
Devonta Freeman‘s breakout season was not just huge for the Atlanta Falcons, but also his fantasy owners.
Tevin Coleman threatens to eat into Freeman’s snaps this year, but it’s still the third-year man’s backfield, and he should once again shine in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Freeman posted an incredible 1,639 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. His ability to run the football and catch passes makes him a great fantasy option, just as Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has been.
It’s always easy to base projections on a player on the year before. DeMarco Murray was the rushing champion two years ago and was predicted to light up defenses again in Philadelphia. Murray was a major fantasy flop last term.
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There are worries Freeman will follow a similar path. But I don’t believe that to be the case. While Coleman’s role could increase somewhat, Freeman is an every-down back and will still see a ton of the football.
Unlike Murray last year, Freeman is a younger back with plenty of tread on the tires. His ability as a receiver makes him all the more valuable.
Looking at what is a much thinner crop of running backs in fantasy land this year, here’s a list of RBs you could consider drafting ahead of Freeman.
Le’Veon Bell: This all comes down to his health. When at 100 percent, Bell is the best back in the league. Like Freeman, he posts numbers on the ground and as a pass catcher.
David Johnson: After a dominant end to the season, second-year Johnson should be handed the keys to the Arizona backfield. When that happens, look out.
Ezekiel Elliott: It’s tough to draft a rookie high, but Elliott might be a worthwhile exception. Elliott is not only one of the best running backs to come out of college for some time, but he will be playing behind the league’s best offensive line. His ability as a runner and receiver makes him tough to pass up.
Todd Gurley: Gurley might become the league’s best running back this year, and he was dominant when healthy last season.
They are the only four names I would even consider taking over Freeman.
Jamaal Charles has too many red flags. Charles’ health is the biggest issue, not to mention he’s now 29-years-old. Adrian Peterson‘s age is always a worry. Running backs tend to hit the wall when nobody sees it coming. Peterson might dominate again, or he could do a Marshawn Lynch.
Next: Julio Jones: Future league MVP?
There is a deep pool of wide receivers available in fantasy this year, so you might want to grab a top-tier running back while you can. If the names above are gone when you pick in the first round, go ahead and take Freeman with confidence.